Police add texting to crisis negotiation arsenal

CAROLYN THOMPSON Associated Press Published:

With texting for many now second nature, law enforcement negotiators say they're increasingly being called upon to defuse violent, unpredictable situations through the typed word.

Experts say it's happened enough in the last five years to warrant new specialized training.

Outside Buffalo, New York, in March, a suspect who'd shot at Erie County Sheriff's deputies was carrying on text exchanges with several relatives when negotiators got involved. Eventually, they persuaded him to surrender.

New York State Police spokeswoman Darcy Wells says texting isn't ideal in a crisis, but if it's all they have, troopers will engage.

It presents challenges. Negotiators say cues they take from a person's tone of voice are lost and they worry their messages can be misinterpreted or delayed as they fumble to type.

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